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Sunday, July 21, 2019

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Emerson: “Our chief want is someone who will inspire us . . .”

Emerson: “Our chief want is someone who will inspire us . . .”

I have a good friend who lives outside Atlanta, Georgia. His name is Dr. Charles Bartholomew.

I met Dr. Charles when he was a student at Nicholls in the late ‘60's and early ‘70's. At the time he was a struggling student who had to deal with his own fears of heights and other things. One of his classes was on the second floor so I encouraged him to face his fears and attend class.

Recently he and his wife Cherylle, (I officiated at their wedding many years ago), attended my 50th Anniversary as a priest at St. Bernadette Church in Houma. Before he left, he gave me this letter that he wrote earlier.

“Thanks for inviting us to your 50th Years of Priesthood. Cherylle and I are overjoyed to be here and to spend time celebrating mass with you today. You have been such an integral part of my family’s life from my days at Nicholls, to our wedding, the adoption of our daughter, our life as a married couple, the blessings of grandkids and now the deteriorating health of my Mom. For all these things I am so very grateful!

“When I came to Nicholls in 1968, I was totally out of place and, as I have said before, dying. I had ‘no business’ (as the older generation would say) being on a college campus. My Dad completed 3 years of school but could read and write a little. My Mom’s education was so sporadic as a child that she could barely write her name.

“My options were limited to working on a sugar cane plantation, joining the military as my older brother did, or going to college. I was almost immobilized by being fearful of everything, so I know the military was not for me and being a laborer on a plantation was too close to replicating my father’s sad life.

“As a very young boy I asked God why he had given this life to me, he did not answer. Surely, there were thousands of babies who died in 1950 who were so much more deserving of this wonderful gift. Although God did not answer, he has sent Angels to guide my feet, to give me comfort and to pray for me when I thought that all hope was gone.

“Many people believe that angels are ghost-like with wings and that miracles exist in some isolated and obscure places. My life has taught me that miracles happen every second and, as far as angels are concerned, they are human and live among us.

“I know that you were and am one of those Angels and I celebrate you today! (signed) Charles”
This letter is very humbling and I don’t consider myself an Angel. However, I asked Dr. Bartholomew to let me use this letter for two reasons. First, to show how we can effect others’ lives. By taking interest in other people’s situations and encouraging them to face their fears, we can give them the “push” they need to be all that they can be.

The second reason for using this letter is to celebrate the success that Charles has. Here was an African American student from the little town of Vacherie, La., who not only graduated from college but went on to get his doctorate in Psychology and has a successful practice in the Atlanta area serving unprivileged young men. It’s amazing what we can do when we follow the lead of Christ.

One of my favorite quotations by Ralph Waldo Emerson is: “Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.”

Sometimes in life we have to be the “pusher,” sometimes we have to be the “pushed.” That’s what Christianity is all about.